Introduction to the Trout Species
By Debbie Kay
The Trout Bucket List Sunday Series is a look at the many different trout species and Subspecies in North America. Of all the fish species that are caught by anglers, trout are considered to be some of the most exciting and challenging to land. These fish belong to three main genera: Salmo, which includes the Atlantic trout, Oncorhynchus, which is the genus for all the Pacific trout, and Salvelinus, which makes up the char family. Each of these genera has several species and subspecies beneath it, many of which exist only in a single water body or stream system. This introduction gives a quick run-down of the species that ought to be on your trout bucket list, with details on how and where to catch them coming in the next few weeks.
There are seven species of Atlantic trout that can be found in North America. These include the Adriatic, Flathead, Marble, Ohrid and Sevan trout, each of which are their own unique species. There are a few subspecies of Salmo trutta, including the very commonly known brown trout. Two morphs of this trout exist, known as fario and lacustris, or the stream brown trout and the lake brown trout. The second subspecies is the sea trout. These are transplants from Europe, brought to the US by homesick fishermen who found the fish to be more sporting than native trout.
The genus Oncorhynchus is by far the largest and most diverse group of trout in North America. It includes unique species like the biwa trout and the Mexican golden trout, as well as two major species groups, and an additional smaller one. The rainbow trout is one of the best known species groups, and one of the most stocked trout species in the US. It has a large number of subspecies, including the Kamchatkan rainbow, the Columbia river redband, the Coastal rainbow, the Beardslee trout, the Great Basin redband, the Golden Trout, the Kern River rainbow, the Sacramento golden, the Little Kern golden, the Kamloops rainbow, the Baja California rainbow, the McCloud River redband, and the Sheephaven Creek redband. Steelhead are also in this group. The second major group is the cutthroat trout. It includes the coastal and crescenti cutthroat, the Alvord cutthroat, the Bonneville cutthroat, the
Humboldt cutthroat, the Lahontan cutthroat, the Whitehorse Basin cutthroat, the Paiute cutthroat, the Snake River fine-spotted cutthroat, the Westslope cutthroat, the Yellowfin cutthroat, the Colorado River cutthroat, the Greenback cutthroat and the Rio Grande Cutthroat. Finally, the Gila and Apache trout are two subspecies of the Gila trout, and can be found in the desert Southwest.
The char genus has a number of well-known trout species which can be found on both coasts of the US. They include the brook trout, Aurora trout, bull trout, dolly varden, lake trout and the extinct silver trout. It also includes some rarer species, notably one called the Sunapee Golden trout, or Salvelinus alpinus oquassa.
Finally, there are a few well-known albino trout to top off anyone’s bucket list. Two of them are naturally occurring, the Tiger trout and the Speckled lake, or splake trout. Two others have been created by state agencies as unique looking hatchery fish to encourage fishermen. This includes, in West Virginia, the Golden rainbow and in Utah the albino rainbow.
Your Trout Bucket List
How many of these species have you caught? Do you have a trout bucket list? Let us know in the comments below!